In 2016 alone, nearly 60,000 police officers were assaulted on the job around the country. And it happens right here in North Dakota nearly every day.
Just this past weekend, there were three reports of assault on Bismarck Police officers. While none of them required serious medical attention, it something that’s not out of the ordinary. And it’s a big contrast compared to around 20 years ago.
“When I first started, assaults on a police officer, at least in my experience were relatively rare. A lot of times, the assault was mainly when they’re just trying to get away, they’d push you to get away,” said Lieutenany Michael McMerty.
Police Chief Dan Donlin says resisting arrest and fighting with officers is daily occurance for them. It’s nearly impossible to eliminate these things from happening, but they use training as a way to hopefully deescalate the situations.
“We used to call it always self defense, but it’s really in our world, it’s about trying to control an individual with either no injury occuring to anybody or trying to minimize that injury,” said Chief Donlin.
Across the country, there has been recent backlash toward law enforcement. It’s that attitude Bismarck PD thinks is a contributing factor.
Lt. McMerty added, “How some of the public reacts to us when were encountering them, it just seems like there’s not quite as much respect.”
They now approach situations like domestic violence calls with more caution. More times than not, there are multiple officers who respond. Lieutenant McMerty says their mindsets have had to change when approaching any type of call.
He said, “If this would happen was type the mindset, now it’s at what point, when, and how often is it going to happen.”
I did some research into how often assault on a peace officer charges are given. While that’s not recorded specifically, I did find out that on-duty peace officers are becoming victims in more crimes. In 2016, there were 317 – which is a jump of nealy 100 from the year before.